As the movement toward the electrification was, so to speak, picking up steam, car designers said they looked forward to exploring the freedom in styling they expected with bulky internal combustion engines being replaced by electric motors and battery packs.
To date, most electric cars look pretty much like those powered by petroleum. However, that is not necessarily the case when it comes to 2-wheel vehicles. Take, for example, the Wattman, which Voxan is proclaiming to be its first high-performance electric motorcycle.
So high performance that the Monaco-based company plans to attempt a world speed-record run in July 2021 with 6-time motorcycle racing world champion Max Biaggi riding a special version of the Voxan Wattman across the Salar de Uyuni salt flat in Bolivia.
Voxan is the motorcycle division of the Venturi Group, which traces to a French firm established in 1984 to build sports and racing cars. The original company collapsed in the early 1990s but was resurrected and in 2004 unveiled an electric sports car, Fetish, at the Paris Motor Show in 2004. It also became a supplier of electric motors to Peugeot in 2008.
In 2010, the company was acquired by Gido Pastor and his Monaco-based Venturi Group, which in 2015 became the first company to commit to the new Formula E racing series, both as a constructor and a motor supplier.
Venturi’s Buckeye Bullet holds the land speed record for electric cars. It also has produced Antarctica, an EV designed for polar exploration and operating at temperatures as cold as 58 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Next up is the pursuit of the electric motorcycle record and, as the company puts it, “innovative new vehicles developed in every category.”
A road-going Wattman was unveiled in 2013 and provided 203 horsepower and 0-62 mph acceleration in 3.4 seconds from its electric powertrain. Now, designer Sacha Lakic and Voxan engineers led by Louis-Marie Blondel and Franck Baldet have produced a new architecture that supplements a steel frame with an aluminum exoskeleton.
“We focused on two main points,” Blondel said, “drag (aerodynamics) and stability at high speed.
“We were aiming to have the smallest possible projected area, but with a long wheelbase and a large rake, so the rider would be positioned as low as possible.”
The team’s goal is to exceed the record of 204.48 set in 2019 by Ryuji Tsuruta on a Mobitec EV-02A.
In addition to a proprietary battery design for the 367-horsepower powertrain, the record-seeking Wattman has a double-wishbone front suspension rather than the usual telescopic fork, and is steered by a link and swing arm. There is no brake on the front wheel nor a trailing parachute, but there is a rear-wheel brake and the rider can use what amounts to engine braking with a lever on the right handlebar grip.
Instead of a radiator, dry ice is used to cool the electric powertrain.
The speed record-setting bike carries sponsorship from ROKiT Group, a telecommunications company that also supports Venturi’s Formula E racing team.